As I browse through the newspaper, my heart sinks at the prospect of what the future holds for our children. School bullies, Child Abuse, Exam Stress, Drugs, Eating Disorders, Climatic Changes, Defrosting Viruses, Cyber attacks, Artificial Intelligence – these are a few things we come across daily through different media. This leaves me wondering what skills will our children need for the future when technology is taking over human talents and stress ruling our lives? And what can we do to nurture these skills?
At times, these negative events and news increase the anxiety levels of parents which further lead to poor health, depression, stressful atmosphere, ultimately deviating them from providing their children a healthy, stress-free atmosphere. Your children, sleeping or awake, around or not, are inevitably absorbing your vibes. We need to beat down the negativity and stick to the ground rules which have pretty much been constant since ages.
To prepare children for adversity, you just need to make sure you provide them a happy, safe and healthy atmosphere at home. This will give them strength to overcome any obstacle that comes their way. You just need to bridle them gently to help them take their own decisions with the confidence and make them feel secure by watching their back.
Going forward, it is the soft skills that are going to help our children more than plain knowledge. For knowledge is going to be represented by machines and robots. Recently at World Economic Forum 2018 Jack Ma (Co-founder of the Alibaba Group) explained what and how we need to prepare our children for the future, where machines are expected to take over most of jobs. A purely knowledge based approach might fail our kids to compete in future. He stressed on how kids need to be taught the soft skills that include:
- Human Values
- Independent thinking
These skills are hard for machines to comprehend and emulate. But these skills are not just hard for machines but humans as well. That’s where the advances in cognitive neuroscience and its insights into the brain can help us. According to Neuroscientists Friederike Fabritius and Hans Hagemann, co-founder of the Munich Leadership Group, there is one thing that determines the peak brain performance and that is the psychological safety.
Psychologically safe environment includes the reward cycle, the climate of appreciation, being respected and accepted. It leads to high predictability for high performance. This stands true for every human being at any level, be it at home, school or work.
Peak performance of an individual can be achieved only when the emotions are under control. And emotions, the core of the above mentioned soft skills, can be under control only when there is a psychologically safe environment. A few things parents can do to instill this sense of control and security are:
Play games with your children: Playing games is great for bonding with kids, teaching them valuable life lessons, and developing their critical thinking skills. While you play with your little one, make sure you win at least half of the time. This will teach them how to handle their emotions, take defeat and learn to try harder next time.
Social gatherings: Involve them socially. Let them be a part of a group and do a task together. Explain them the ethics of working in a group, listening to others, appreciating team members and contributing together as a team. Working in groups also provide children opportunity to make their own rules and stand up for things they do not agree on.
Outdoor Games and Sports: Entertainment technology has shackled us emotionally and physically to a great extent. We need to crack some sweat to make us mentally and physically fit. Exercise has great positive effect on body. Sports also teach children how to be disciplined and perform as a team.
Family vacation: Vacations give the necessary break from the mundane life and offers opportunity to connect beyond academia and activities. Children become more expressive when you are all ears for them. They share their thoughts, confusions and struggles. Sometimes, it is just your attention they need to sort things out.
Exploit their creativity/ interest: See what your child loves to do or play with. Be it drawing, painting, playing musical instruments or reading. Let the child spend good time in doing what he/she enjoys the most. While we nag at the worse, it is important to appreciate what technology and current era has given us. We are blessed to be born in an era where creativity is appreciated and can be given wings relatively easily. We have plethora of avenues to showcase our passion and creation at the global level.
These simple nurturing activities benefit the brain in more ways than we can possibly imagine. With Soft skills and emotional intelligence taking the front seat, this is only way we can ready our children to take on the challenging future.